MP makes last ditch "don't sack them" plea for Strathfield Council as State Government deadline passes

Protestors at Martin Place on eve of Fit for the Future deadline


State MP Jodi McKay has urged local government minister Paul Toole not to sack Strathfield Council because it is holding out against amalgamation.

Today saw the final deadline for submissions on the Fit for the Future program initiated by the State Government, and an 11th hour move by Liberal councillors at an extraordinary meeting to make a submission was defearted last night.

Strathfield has steadfastly maintained the process is flawed and refuses to take part in the exercise.

Yesterday, Save Our Strathfield leaders Nella Gaghan  and Karen Pensabene, as well as Deputy Mayor Andrew soulos, councillors Daniel Bott, and Helen McLucas took part in an anti-amalgamation protest rally outside parliament.

Ms McKay told ourStrathfield: “I will be interested to see what the Minister will do for Strathfield in particular, because its one of the councils holding out. 

“I would urge him not to sack Strathfield Council but all the indications are that they will deal quite harshly with councils that don't want to amalgamate.

“What’s disappointing now is that Bankstown has made a grab for Strathfield Council. I have put a petition to the minister today stating that local residents don't want a boundary change and they want to remain in Strathfield Council   - and of course I don't support Auburn being part of Burwood and Canada Bay.”

The rally in Martin Place became a focus for the dying hours of a campaign which has lasted many months, with Strathfield in its lead.

Hundreds of volunteers from Sydney councils turned out to tell Premier Mike Baird and Local Government Minister Paul Toole that forced amalgamations of their councils is undemocratic.

The rally saw a mass turnout of residents, councillors from councils like Holroyd, Woollahra, Leichhardt, Mosman, Hunters Hill amongst others and leading politicians like Rev. Fred Nile, Greens MLC David Shoebridge, Shadow Minister for Local Government Peter Primrose who have been vocal about their anti-amalgamation stance.

The big surprise for most attendees was the appearance of celebrity radio presenter Alan Jones who did not minced his words: “People are asking the state government to do what it promised, that there will be no forced amalgamation.

“Be brave, be resilient if they don’t understand what you are saying, then they are in trouble. They cannot sack a council just because it doesn’t do the government’s bidding,” said Mr Jones in his speech.

In a quick chat with the Scene, he said, “This is a government policy that there will be no forced amalgamations. Now if a government is going to lie on a significant point of public policy like this, what else are they going to tell lies about. They obviously aren’t prepared to stand by their own word.”

He added: “Forget the deadline! Its rubbish! These people are telling lies! You can’t have a government that tells lies. You can’t have a government that’s elected on the basis of a lie! This was a commitment given, a very specific commitment and its been repeated. The local government ministry signed a petition.”

Ms Gaughan, leading the Save Our Councils Coalition, was welcomed on stage with rousing applause.

“Mike Baird is trying to bully our councils into signing up for amalgamations no-one wants and no one needs. But where I come from, out at Strathfield, we’ve had a gutful of the way he’s interfering with local democracy.

“We don’t believe the lies he’s peddling about bigger councils meaning better services and lower rates,” said Ms Gaughan.

Cr Bott added:  “I am not interested in selling our Strathfield. Other councils may be but I am not, as long as the majority of residents are saying no, we will continue to say no. I couldn’t give a damn on what Mike Baird and Paul Toole have to say, they are dead wrong. Strathfield Council is a great council and anyone who says otherwise doesn't know what they are talking about.”

Strathfield residents Barry and Meryl Wilson were amongst the many volunteers attending the rally.

“We have been living in Strathfield for 35 years but nothing like this has happened before. There has been no serious proposal from the government telling people what the benefits are going to be. They keep using lots of words saying it will be better but no body has explained how it will be better, so thats very disappointing,” said Mr Wilson.












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